Dartford council reintroduces public space protection order in city center crackdown on alcohol, drugs and street racing
Street runners, curb drinkers and drug addicts are targeted as part of the crackdown on anti-social behavior.
Dartford council has agreed to reintroduce a public space protection order (PSPO) in the city center following a series of incidents after the lockdown.
The ordinance will give police and municipal officials more power to tackle bothersome behavior and issue penalty notices leading to fines.
It includes the possibility of confiscating alcohol and cracking down on the use of anti-social vehicles such as races, stunts and horns between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Central Park and the War Memorial are two areas that have been specifically fenced off as in need of protection.
The PSPO, which also extends to the city center, was set up following a public consultation and will last until 2024.
It was last set up in 2017 to tackle a similar array of anti-social activity and ended in 2019, but was reinstated following a recent spate of incidents.
The council and Dartford Town Against Crime Business Crime Reduction Partnership (DTAC) began enforcing the order last month.
Since then, 27 fines have been imposed for alcohol consumption on the streets and four for drug abuse in public.
Council chief Jeremy Kite said its reintroduction would represent an “intense period” of action to crack down on isolated instances of bad behavior.
The top Tory said: “It is frustrating to have returned from foreclosure to a very small group of people who are causing a disproportionate amount of trouble.”
Failure to follow the rules of a PSPO exposes the offender to a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) of £ 100, reduced to £ 60 if paid within 10 days.
Violation is considered a criminal offense and is punishable by a fine of up to £ 1,000.
FPNs can be used in certain circumstances where a person agrees to have “broken the law” but wishes to avoid a court appearance.
If an individual cannot afford to pay, or professes his innocence, he can choose to appear before a magistrate who can impose a sanction if found guilty.
The use of PSPO in other parts of the county has already been criticized by human rights groups, especially in relation to people sleeping rough.
But Cllr Kite explained that anyone who is vulnerable or in need of support would be offered help for an addiction or be put in touch with a charitable support service.
The head of the council explained that the PSPO was not intended to displace people from the city center but to “take them away from the cause of their problems”.
He added: “It’s always a shame when we have to put heavy constraints on ourselves, but when we do, we have no hesitation.
“Alcohol and drug abuse can have a significant impact on the rights of other people to enjoy the downtown area.
“We are here to help people who may have addiction issues, but protecting the community at large is fundamental to us and we will always take whatever steps are necessary to uphold and secure the area.”
Cllr Kite added that PSPO could also be used in the future to help address the problem of harmful drivers in surrounding areas.
He pointed to the recent episodes of boy runners and irresponsible driving seen in Greenhithe where a scatter order was introduced this weekend.
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